I was recently discussing with a colleague what differentiates our various clients. While each of them is undergoing improvement in some form, it is clear that some Offices of Finance perform significantly better than others. The basic difference often lies in their operations. Some run smoothly, with a quiet calm, timely submitted reports, and no finger-pointing; others are a chaotic mess, with deadlines always overdue, high turnover, and dirty mugs scattered around, half full of cold, bad coffee.

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From time to time every professional should take a step back and assess where they have been, where they are today and where they want to go. The Office of Finance is no exception. As we begin to plan for next year, we spent some time reflecting on what CFOs and their teams are tasked with. Based on our team’s collective experience in working with the Office of Finance, we have developed what we believe are key principles to succeed going forward. Read more

Outcomes are important for any Finance organization. There are many means to the end in working within the Office of Finance. Working with the right people to implement the plan and monitor the plan is one method. Building up processes to keep the focus on the right activities is another. The tools utilized to support people and the processes is another important factor. All three create the means to the end for the team. Read more

The process of creating a new fiscal year budget or long range plan, especially for Higher Education, tends to be overly complex, fraught with strategy misalignment and riddled with errors. I know this all too well as a former Budget Manager at Montclair State University, New Jersey’s second largest institution. Later, I became an implementer of a CPM solution and realized these challenges were pervasive with other institutions – it’s a systemic problem. Read more

I hope no fists are flying at your office over budgeting and forecasting, however conflict is likely to occur. In this case, opinions and facts from different stakeholders can help. At the same time, impactful decisions at organizations that can affect the direction over days, months and years are derived from the better outcomes. The unnecessary part of conflict can be minimized with an integrated process letting the data drive these outcomes. Read more

People choose to attend a conference like Adaptive Live for various reasons. This year, some spent four days training, networking and gaining new insights to take on the journey to better planning. My colleagues and I enjoyed the conversations and learned a lot about Adaptive Insights and more importantly, what customers do or need. Every interaction has value at a conference and what you do with that experience is important. Read more

Many Finance professionals are faced with the daily task of solving problems. Whether they come from IT Services, the Business Intelligence team, or even the next cube over, we can never seem to fix enough.

The first, and most important step in solving problems is to identify them, otherwise known as Root Cause Analysis. The “5 Whys” methodology is far and away one of the most efficient methods for honing in on and conceptualizing the root cause of any dilemma you might come across. Read more

When done well, a good financial forecast allows the business to make the right investments at the right time and allows finance to set more accurate expectations with investors. Unfortunately, many financial forecasts do not consider enough variables, consider the market perspective, or have a flexible yet robust process. The future norm for financial forecasting will be a combination of subjective veteran business leader input and advanced financial modeling that coalesce human experience and computational knowledge in a meaningful way. Read more

The recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will undoubtedly have broad implications across the corporate landscape as updates to the tax code will necessitate major changes to certain financial management decisions. Finance needs a solid FP&A modeling foundation in order to lead tax-related decision making within their organizations. While there are many aspects of the tax code that will require in-depth financial impact analyses, changes to the deductibility of capital expenditures has been a particular area of interest for some Ironside clients that invest heavily in fixed assets. Read more